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Judge Kebonang returns to work post NPF saga

Last week Friday, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) voted to allow Justice Dr Zein Kebonang to return to work from leave of absence since late 2018.

Kebonang was granted leave of absence from duty on November 26, 2018 following his involvement in  allegations of money-laundering pertaining to the National Petroleum Fund (NPF).

The JSC is made up of the Chief Justice, Judge President of the Court of Appeal, Permanent Secretary to the President, Attorney General, a member of the Law Society of Botswana and two members of the public.

His return to duty comes after the Judge successfully challenged his prosecution by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on two counts of money-laundering. In its verdict,  Justice Matlhogonolo Phuthego one of the three judges empanelled to hear the case, found that Kebonang and his twin brother Sadique Kebonang had been wrongfully charged and that the DPP had flagrantly lied on oath about a resolution which he had said was signed by Zein Kebonang purportedly on behalf of Basis Point Capital.

The resolution had been used to charge Zein Kebonang. After suffering the loss to Judge Kebonang, the DPP sought to appeal the decision of the three panel Judges. The DPP however failed to apply for leave to

appeal and the appeal remains legally non existent. One senior attorney asked about the matter opined that once the charges against Kebonang were thrown out by the High Court, there was no reason for him not to return to work.

“An appeal does not leave charges hanging and there are no charges that Kebonang is facing,” explained the attorney. Another senior attorney questioned the tactics of the DPP in its intended appeal. He said it looked more like a personal crusade than one informed by professional assessment. The DPP, he cautioned, must try and rebuild its battered and compromised imagine, which had tarnished the image of the country.  “It must avoid to be seen to be a political instrument used to settle political and personal scores. It is only in Botswana where a DPP can lie under oath and still have a job. Just as he acted against other high-ranking government officials, the President must act against the DPP to avoid impression that he ‘lies’ at the behest of government and the President in particular,” he said.


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